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    North America Travel

    Road Tripping Oregon USA

    Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Oregon USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the third installment in a three part series of our road trip adventures. Read installment number one here (Idaho) and installment number two here (Colorado).

    Mount Jefferson
    Oregon’s Mount Jefferson with smoke from fires

    We left Colorado early in the morning with the fires still burning, so another detour and long drive ahead. We drove about 12 hours back into Idaho where we stayed at a less-than-appealing Red Lion in the town of Boise. We were exhausted so didn’t see any of Boise. I love Boise and have been there before…next time we will stay longer and in better accommodations.

    Welcome to Oregon

    We hit the road bright and early for the six hour drive to Bend, Oregon, passing back into the Pacific Time zone before arriving. A light blanket of smoke hung over most of Oregon too, as fires there also burned in the summer ritual that has become so common with climate change. So sad.

    Riverbend Park
    Riverbend Park

    We had a few hours to spare before we could check into our Airbnb so we headed to Riverbend park where we hoped to get wet and cool off on the sweltering 100 degree day.

    But since it was Saturday lots of people had the same idea. It was super crowded making social distancing a bit difficult. This beautiful park on the Deschutes River is popular for floating down in inner tubes and other floaties, and 100’s of people were here for that activity. Since we didn’t have a floatie, we laid out our beach towels on the grass far from shore and just soaked up some sun and watched everyone float down the river from a comfortable distance.

    Riverbend Park
    Sunny day at Riverbend Park

    Oregon has a population of just over 4 million and ranks 39th in the states with about 25,000 virus cases. Some people were masked in public but the rules were not as strict as in Colorado. Everyone was wearing masks inside stores and restaurants.

    Airbnb Bend
    The Wee Hoose Airbnb, Bend

    Bend Is Da Bomb

    After a couple of hours we headed to check into our Airbnb, another darling little cabin on a ranch. It was small and the bathroom was in a separate building but the proprietors were excellent hosts and had done such a nice job making this a wonderful little respite. We would definitely stay here again. See it here.

    Bend is one of my favorite areas in THE WORLD (you know that is saying something) and I think I could live here. We only had two days so we tried to make the most of it. We had a spectacular meal at El Sancho, some of the best, most authentic Mexican food I’ve had in a very long time. We enjoyed walking and shopping in old Bend, and tried to play golf but a huge thunderstorm kicked up and kept us from getting out on the course. Oh well, next time.

    El Sancho Bend
    Amazing tacos at El Sancho

    From our Airbnb in northwest Bend off of Powell Butte, I was able to do a really long run one morning. There are many parks and trails also great for running and cycling and hiking all around this region.

    Mask Up Oregon
    Thanks Oregon for Masking Up

    Microbrew Capital of the Northwest

    Our last day we did a self-guided microbrewery tour. Bend has more thant THIRTY microbreweries…an astonishing number. We had the time and the stamina to enjoy only a handful. Some of our favorites were 10 Barrel, Crux, Bevel, McMenamins, Bend Brewing and Deschutes. We had planned to eat dinner at Bend Brewing or Deschutes but the same thunderstorm kept us from these outdoor dining places. Instead we ate at the historic Pine Tavern. Always a good choice when in Bend.

    Crux Brewing Bend
    My happy husband with Beer from Crux

    So our two quick days in Bend was not enough, but we hope to come back next summer and stay for a week. It really is a special place.

    Pine Tavern Bend
    The historic Pine Tavern

    On day 13 we drove the six hours back to our home in Washington State, tired but fulfilled at least for awhile, as we wait for our full-time travel life to begin again. We may just need to take another road trip in the months to come.

    Sunrise Bend
    Sunrise from our Airbnb

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    Read our blog about Geoducking in Washington State here.

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    North America Travel

    Road Tripping Colorado USA

    Aspen and Surrounding Area, Colorado USA

    Location: Colorado

    Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Colorado USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the second installment of three part series of our road trip adventures. Read installment number one here.

    We left Idaho to continue our journey to the Aspen Colorado area. For all the travel we had done, even several visits to Colorado, somehow Aspen eluded me. And so why not? Aspen here I come.

    Colorado border
    Welcome to Colorado

    Seemed easy enough, although a long drive from Sun Valley to Aspen we could do it in a day. We left early and enjoyed the beauty as we left Idaho and spent many miles through Utah and eventually crossing into Colorado.

    But oh no, we could see it for miles…smoke. Something was definitely burning. We proceded but when we were about an hour from our destination of Carbondale, a small town outside of Aspen, we learned that Interstate 70 was closed due to a fire. Our only option was a four-hour detour through Grand Junction. Sigh….a long day of driving got even longer.

    Grizzly Creek Fire Colorado
    Grizzly Creek Fire

    It was a relief to finally arrive, road weary but intact, at Cedar Ridge Ranch and our Glamping Airbnb. It was pitch black but we found our cozy tent with queen size bed ready and waiting and we collapsed into.

    Cedar Ridge Ranch tent
    Glamping at Cedar Ridge Ranch

    At sunrise with coffee in hand we explored the ranch to see what exactly it was we had gotten ourselves into. We could see the fire burning…but felt comfortable at the distance we were at. And so we headed out to see what we came here to see.

    Cedar Ridge Ranch
    Grizzly Creek Fire behind Cedar Ridge Ranch

    The Aspen region includes the towns of Carbondale, Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Marble and several others. Our lodgings were high above Carbondale and about a 30 minute drive to the town of Aspen.

    Aspen Colorado
    Slopes come right into dowtown Aspen

    We spent one day in Aspen and I was amazed how the ski slopes come right down into town. It would be really fun to come back here in the winter. Aspen and all the small towns we visited were enforcing the mask wearing not only inside buildings, stores and restaurants but in all public spaces including sidewalks, parks and even on the chairlifts. Good for them.

    Colorado, with a population of 5.5 million ranks 35th in the states for virus cases currently at 52,000 as of this writing.

    Aspen Colorado
    Mask up in Aspen

    We explored the small town of Carbondale, visited the weekly farmers market, and did several morning runs along the Crystal Creek trail, an old railroad bed trail about six miles long.

    We loved the tiny and historic town of Basalt, the cutest town I think of all we saw. It was really lively with street performers and lots of visitors, but still easy to social distance. We had an outstanding meal at Temparnillo. I highly recommend it.

    Temparnillo Basalt Colorado
    Fantastic meal at Temparnillo

    We did a steep hike called Sunnyside, just outside of Aspen and boy did I feel the elevation. Starting at 7000 feet and climbing to 9500 I was breathing hard. But the views…wow. So the next day we did a long but flat 8 mile hike on the Rio Grand trail, a paved trail popular with cyclists that runs through the valley from Aspen to Glenwood Springs about 42 miles. It was a great way to exercise without the elevation gain.

    Rio Grand Trail Colorado
    Rio Grand Trail Aspen Valley

    We squeezed in nine holes at the River Valley Ranch Golf Course on a really hot day, but we enjoyed getting to play despite the smoke billowing in the distance.

    River Valley Ranch golf course
    River Valley Ranch with the fire in the distance

    We really loved staying at the Cedar Ridge Ranch and having the horses, cows, alpacas and chickens as our neighbors. We saw coyote, ground hogs, deer and wild turkeys. Cedar Ridge offers horse rides, farm tours, yoga and even arts and crafts. Next time we will stay longer, because our four nights zoomed by. Road Tripping Colorado USA was made perfect down on the ranch.

    Cute Alpacas at Cedar Ridge Ranch

    As we left the fire continued to burn, and even two weeks later as I write this blog the Grizzly Canyon fire continues to burn. Interstate 70 has just reopened though, luckily for all the businesses and residents. Our thoughts and prayers are with all we met and everyone in beautiful Colorado.

    Cedar Ridge Ranch
    Cedar Ridge Ranch at dusk

    Hope you enjoyed Road Tripping Colorado USA. Next week we visit Oregon.

    Read about the fires here.

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    At Home  --  North America Travel

    Road Tripping Idaho USA

    Part One of a Three Part Road Tripping Series

    Location: McCall & Sun Valley Idaho, USA

    Inspired to explore environs closer to home, meaning in the United States, we set out on a road trip in August. Road tripping Idaho USA began in Washington State. We traveled 3375 miles through 5 states over 13 days. Our goal was only to sate a wee bit of our wanderlust and see a few towns and regions we had never visited. This is the first installment of three part series of our road trip adventures.

    Hiking in Idaho
    Hiking was at the top of our list for our road trip activities

    Road Warriors

    I should start by telling those of you who don’t know, that we have visited all fifty states. Yes, in addition to the 110 countries we have visited we can also claim to have visited all fifty states. Admittedly I am a bit of an overachiever (insert eye roll).

    But point of clarification – the way we accomplished this momentous task is by…wait for it…ROAD TRIPPING! Yep, it’s really the only way to visit all 50 states, and over the past twenty-eight years we have traversed the entire country on six separate road trips. Our first road trip was in 1992 when we drove from Washington State to Washington DC. So our Road tripping Idaho USA begins our sixth USA road trip.

    Idaho Deer
    Rural Idaho offers a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities

    Road Tripping in the Time of The “C” Word

    That inconvenient virus has made every aspect of our lives a struggle, including a summer road trip. We planned a socially distanced itinerary and were able to pull it off by planning ahead, traveling with cleaning supplies and wearing our masks. We spent multiple days in Idaho, Colorado and Oregon.

    Way to go Idaho

    Given that Idaho is the neighbor to my home state of Washington you’d think I would have spent more time there. But not so much. I’ve visited the panhandle multiple times, and the city of Boise, but on this trip I really wanted to see more of the mountains in the south so that’s what we set out to do.

    Reflexion in Lake
    Beautiful Twin Lakes, a four mile easy round trip hike in McCall

    We drove our first day to Spokane, still in Washington State but right on the border with Idaho. We spent a fun evening with my husband’s brother and his wife, before making an early morning escape under the cover of darkness. Today’s drive was about six hours to McCall Idaho (crossing into Mountain time zone), home to Payette Lake, Brundage Mountain and beautiful scenery.

    We spent our first day in McCall enjoying the company of dear old friends who have retired to this gorgeous area. It’s not hard to see why they would choose it. Everything you might want is here; hot dry summers, cold dry winters, hiking, biking, boating, skiing, great dining and beer. Wow.

    Wildflowers in Idaho
    Abundant wildflowers at Twin Lakes

    Day two in McCall we did two easy hikes. First we hiked to Twin Lakes, an easy four mile round trip suitable for just about anyone. It was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. We had gotten an early start and found the trail and the lake deserted, except for a lone fisherman…perfect. The views were like a postcard…actually better!

    Next we went to the Brundage Ski Area very popular in the summer for mountain bikers. We had a delicious lunch (socially distanced outdoors) on the deck of the lodge before riding the chair lift ($15) up to the top of the mountain. Here we could see all the way back to McCall and Payette Lake and well beyond. The chair lift ticket includes a round trip, but we hiked the 4 mile cat track back down to the lodge, enjoying a wide variety of wildflowers and bird life, and only a handful of other people.

    Chair lift at Brundage
    Masked up for the chairlift ride at Brundage Ski Area

    We spent our two nights in McCall in a tiny little cabin a block from the lake. Teeny kitchen and bath, a comfy bed and a fireplace make this place cozy and perfect for a few days winter or summer. We also enjoyed sitting around the campfire in the evening. See it here.

    Payette Lake
    Payette Lake is a dream for boating and water sports

    Day four we exited early, heading south to the famous Sun Valley region. We had never visited Sun Valley and it had been on my list for a long time. Sun Valley is made up of several towns, and several ski areas. The best known town is Ketchum. We stayed in Hailey, about five miles outside of Ketchum (another peaceful and exceptionally well kept Airbnb. See it here).

    Sun Valley Ski Resort view
    You can see forever from the top of Sun Valley Ski Resort

    Our first day in the valley we took the gondola at Sun Valley Ski Resort up to the top of the mountain ($25). The weather was clear and warm and you could see for a hundred miles. We had an outdoor socially distanced meal at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum and explored some of the local microbrews.

    Ketchum Idaho
    A great view from the outdoor patio at Warfield Distillery in Ketchum

    Day two in the valley I enjoyed a long morning run on the Wood River trail that runs for 15+ miles all along the valley. Next we took a short hike on a nature trail near our Airbnb along the Wood River. We finished our day playing nine holes of golf at the beautiful Elk Horn Golf Course. Sun Valley is peppered with golf courses…wish we had been able to check out a few more – next time!

    Elk Horn Golf
    A beautiful golf course, Elk Horn in Sun Valley

    Feeling Safe in Idaho

    Idaho has a population of 1.75 million and ranks 35th in the USA for virus infections with just over 28,000 (Source Statista as of August 19th). In both McCall and the Sun Valley area we found people wearing masks in all stores and restaurants and many people wearing masks on the sidewalks in town. Idaho was dead last in the USA for cases until mid-June when virus cases began to rise.

    Sawtooth Mountains
    Mountains Majesty – the Sawtooth Mountains

    We made a point to keep distanced, choose activities where we could easily stay away from crowds, and we enjoyed our road trip in Idaho. It really is an underrated gem in the United States. Now I want to go back in the winter. Road tripping Idaho USA filled our goals.

    Join us next week for our Colorado installment of Road Tripping USA.

    See our road trip to Montana from Summer 2019.

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    North America Travel

    Chasing Waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound Region

    Summer in Washington State

    Snoqualmie Falls

    Location: Washington State USA

    Spending every summer in Washington State, we always try to search out something new and interesting we have never done. The Pacific Northwest is chock full of gorgeous opportunities for hiking, biking, boating and more. And this summer we decided to go chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region.

    There are lots of waterfalls to choose from, and not only on the west side of Washington. Eastern and Southern Washington have a variety all their own. But we chose to visit five waterfalls within a short drive of our summer villa which is located on the Kitsap Peninsula.

    Today I share with you five beautiful, easily accessible waterfalls everyone should visit – locals and visitors alike. It’s time for everyone to try chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region. So here we go;

    1. Marymere Falls

    Marymere Falls
    Marymere Falls near Port Angeles Washington

    The drive to Marymere Falls trailhead is in itself a great summer or fall activity. Located just a short 2 mile walk from Crescent Lake and the Crescent Lake Lodge, Marymere Falls is 30 miles from Port Angeles and is within the Olympic National Park so an America the Beautiful Pass is required. At this location you can also do the Storm King hike if you are in good shape and an experienced hiker. As for the hike to Marymere, it is accessible to just about anyone. Starting from the parking lot it’s about 2 miles with a slight incline to reach the falls. The view of the 90 foot drop of the falls is beautiful. This hike is very popular and can be extremely crowded on a summer weekend. Consider fall or midweek if you can.

    2. Franklin Falls

    Franklin Falls near North Bend Washington
    Franklin Falls

    There are at least three waterfalls all within a few miles of each other and just off of Interstate 90 near North Bend and the town of Snoqualmie in the Cascade Mountains. Franklin Falls is the first of the three. A easy and beautiful 2 mile round trip hike through old growth forests, Franklin Falls is on Denny Creek. You can swim at the base of the falls and many people come here on the weekends to cool off in the summer. This is a hike you can do any time of year, and the water level of the falls changes seasonally. Again its easy access makes it very popular on summer weekends and parking can be tight. Plan accordingly. Franklin Falls is part of the Denny Creek Washington State Campground and a Discover Pass is required.

    3. Twin Falls

    Twin Falls Washington State
    Twin Falls near Snoqualmie Washington

    A short drive west from Franklin Falls you can get to the hike for Twin Falls. Located on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, Twin Falls is within Olallie State Park and a Discover Pass is required. Many families come here on the weekend to swim in the river, but the hike has a slow and steady incline so not everyone goes to the falls. But due to limited parking, consider weekday visit in the summer. The 2 mile round trip hike meanders along the river then traverses through beautiful forests before reaching the first observation point for the falls. Continue on another quarter mile to get up close and personal with beautiful Twin Falls.

    4. Snoqualmie Falls

    Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge
    Snoqualmie Falls near the town of Snoqualmie Washington State

    The Granddaddy of all Washington waterfalls is the incomparable Snoqualmie Falls. Located on the Snoqualmie River, just downstream from the town of the same name, Snoqualmie Falls is majestic. Higher than Niagara, the falls have a different personality depending on the season. If you are lucky enough to view the falls during a flood or high rain season you will be astonished by the amount of water that thunders over. But the falls are just as beautiful during summer and fall, when the narrower cascade gracefully falls like a veil. Snoqualmie Falls offers multiple viewing platforms, open from dawn to dusk, and a steep hike is also an option down to the base of the falls. Access is free and free parking is also available. A very special treat is to dine or stay the night at the impeccable Salish Lodge, located right at the edge of the falls with spectacular views. Snoqualmie Falls is located just off Interstate 90. Follow the signs through the town of Snoqualmie to the falls.

    5. Silver Falls

    Silver Falls in Washington
    Silver Falls, Mount Rainier National Park Washington State

    Within Mount Rainier National Park you will find a variety of glorious waterfalls, as well as wonderful hiking options. Silver Falls is one of the most beautiful, with a 3 mile round trip loop hike that most anyone can do. Start the hike at the Ohanapekosh Campground, located at the Cayuse Pass entrance to the park about 47 miles from the city of Enumclaw. Once again, summer weekends are busy and parking is limited, so try to come midweek. Autumn is an excellent time to visit as well. The hike is within the Mount Rainier National Park and a America the Beautiful Pass is required. From the parking lot follow the signs to the falls through a beautiful old growth forest with views of the Ohanapekosh River below. Arriving at the falls you will be awarded with a stunning view. Cross the tiny wooden bridge to see another view of the falls, or to clamber out on the giant boulders and enjoy your lunch. Return to your vehicle on the loop trail, enjoying more of the beauty and scenery of this magnificent National Park.

    Beautiful Washington

    We love our home state of Washington and love being tourists in our own back yard when we are in Washington and the USA. Chasing waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound region is just one of our favorite things. Want to learn more about our Favorite Places in Washington? Click here.

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    Washington Waterfalls
    Washington Waterfalls
    North America Travel

    A Tree House Hideaway in Washington State

    Rockabye Baby in the Treetops

    Location: Fall City Washington State USA

    We continue to look for lovely little getaways close to home that we are calling Sanity Staycations (read about our first Sanity Staycation here). A way to travel when we can’t really travel, due to this inconvenient little virus. On our latest Sanity Staycation we found a Tree House Hideaway in Washington State. Only a couple of hours from home.

    Temple of the Blue Moon at Tree House Point
    Our little nest

    I’ve known about Tree House Point for years…but it has never made it into our destination bucket, until now. Boy am I glad we went. Secluded, unique, comfortable and beautiful – living in a tree is incredible – such a surprise. I can’t wait to go back. A tree house hideaway in Washington State tops just about anywhere we have stayed…and that’s saying a lot.

    Tree House Spruce Tree
    The old growth spruce that started it all

    Beginning in 2004 when Pete and Judy Nelson first bought this magnificent forested property on the Raging River just 30 minutes from Seattle, Tree House Point now welcomes visitors from around the world for overnight stays, weddings, retreats and more.

    The very first tree house built, Temple of the Blue Moon, (see title image) happens to be the one we stayed in. Apparently the magnificent old growth spruce that supports this tree house was the inspiration for Pete and his crew at Nelson Tree House and Supply. And well, after the completion of Temple of the Blue Moon in 2007, Pete just kept building and today six tree houses (with a seventh on the way) make up this exceptional hidden retreat.

    Tree house interior at Tree House Point
    Temple of the Blue Moon interior

    Our Sanity Staycation included more than just hanging out in trees…we went waterfall chasing too. During our visit we hiked in to see Franklin Falls and Twin Falls. Both these falls are a short and easy hike, less than 30 minutes from the tree house. Each hike offers beautiful scenery with minimal elevation gain, and very close to Interstate 90. But beware, because of their easy access they can be very crowded on a summer weekend. Try to visit midweek.

    Franklin Falls
    Franklin Falls

    We also visited Snoqualmie Falls and had a spectacular meal overlooking the falls at the world famous Salish Lodge. We have eaten here before and once again were not disappointed. My scallops were sublime and Arne’s pork chop was as tender as butter. Salish offers valet parking for guests, a wonderful list of Washington wines and first class customer service.

    Snoqualmie Falls
    Snoqualmie Falls
    Dinner at Salish Lodge
    Scallops at Salish Lodge

    Tree House Point room rates vary by season but sleeping in the trees will run close to $400 per night. Usually two night minimum is requested, however, if there is an opening in the calendar for one night you can book. That is what we did, and how we were able to reserve on fairly short notice. And by the way, it was worth every penny.

    Breakfast at Tree House Point
    Breakfast at Tree House Point

    It’s a special experience, includes a delicious breakfast and the customer service was top notch. If you can, try to visit. I have to agree with the folks at Tree House Point…everyone should “be in a tree”. They make it easy here.

    I’ll be sharing more about waterfalls in a blog soon.

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    At Home  --  Inspire  --  North America Travel

    Sanity Staycation

    Location: Whidbey Island Washington USA

    Not everyone is up for a staycation right now. But for me, getting away even for a day, or two, or three, is a great boost to mental health during pandemic paralysis. Since it looks like it might be awhile until we can fly off to the Alps, or the Cote d’Azure or the Azores…a little sanity staycation is a perfect pandemic prescription.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Our Cottage at Quintessa

    We’ve decided to do several sanity staycations in the weeks and months ahead, visiting places within a few hours or a few days from home. Places reachable by car with low impact as far as crowds or contact with humans. Our first sanity staycation was to the beautiful Whidbey Island less than two hours from my home in Washington State where we have been on travel pause for two months.

    Whidbey Island

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    The Quintessa

    First, traveling mid-week is a great way to avoid crowds. On Whidbey we felt like we were the only visitors, and that was okay with us. We rented a cottage on the grounds of the Quintessa, a wedding and events location. But on a Tuesday, we were the only guests and it felt really special to have it all to ourselves.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Langley Washington

    Whidbey is easy to get around by car. We’ve been here before so didn’t need to see everything, but if you haven’t visited before the cute shops especially in Langley and Coupeville are my favorites. If you are game there are also wine tasting rooms, distilleries and taprooms. Greenbank Farms will serve you wine and cheese and send you off with a delicious berry pie to take home – giving you a chance to savor your sanity staycation for a day or two more. Or pick up some world famous Penn Cove Oysters while here…the tiny sweet delicious mollusks are the best.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Joe’s Wood Fired Pizza

    If you are an experienced cyclists it’s a great place to ride, but we left our bikes at home this time and opted for some easy hiking. We chose to do a really fun day hike in the Fort Ebey State Park, perfect for any fitness level and offering some really beautiful views. Exactly what my mental health was craving.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    Fort Ebey State Parl

    Although we didn’t have a reservation (highly recommended) we were able to slide in for an early dinner at the highly rated Prima Bistro in Langley. Both indoor and outdoor dining and a really great menu makes the Prima Bistro a top choice. If you want to social distance try to get a reservation off peak, although the restaurant was following all State of Washington distancing rules. On our second night we got take-out at the highly rated Joe’s Wood Fired Pizza. Excellent New York style pizza, in the Bayview area halfway between Langley and Freeland. We also made a quick stop for a treat at Coupeville’s Red Hen Bakery – killer cinnamon rolls, take out only.

    Whidbey Island Staycation
    The historic building in Langley,home to Prima Bistro

    Plan Ahead

    A sanity staycation takes a bit of planning…don’t assume everything is open and running regular hours. For instance Joe’s is only open for take-out currently (July 2020).

    Also very important is that you check the current schedule for the Washington State Ferries (unless you plan to arrive from the North over the Deception Pass Bridge). Currently due to reduced staffing Washington State Ferries are running at half capacity (July 2020). The Mukilteo to Clinton Ferry (closest from Seattle and King and Snohomish County and all points east) is usually a 2-3 boat wait unless you can travel during non-peak. Another option is the Port Townsend to Coupeville Ferry. If you are coming from points west and south ( Pierce, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason or Jefferson Counties) this is definitely the way to go. The great thing about this boat is you can make a reservation and be secured a spot on whatever sailing you want.

    Ebey Landing

    But that’s all part of the “fun” (she says tongue in cheek) during the time of Covid. Learning to live with new rules and guidelines will serve us all in the long run…and taking a mental health sanity staycation is a highly recommended way to feel better and wash away the blues – but only if you are comfortable being out. We plan to choose safe, quiet and unpopulated places to visit on upcoming sanity staycations.

    Not a soul around. Enjoying a cinnamon roll outside Red Hen Bakery

    Be safe. Be smart. And above all else, please be kind.

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    North America Travel

    For Purple Mountains Majesty

    Montana’s Big Sky

    Location: Montana

    It’s a vast state, but one of my favorites. I’d like to spend more time here, and every time I visit I want to see more.

    Montana. Often called the Big Sky Country or the Treasure State both nicknames reflect the vastness and beauty of the United States’ 41st state. Montana joined a wide group of new states in 1889, including my home state of Washington which became the 42nd state three days after Montana.

    Glacier National Parki
    Lake McDonald Lodge

    I’ve mentioned in my blogs before that I wish visitors to the USA would come to places like Montana, instead of Las Vegas or Orlando because in my opinion this is America. America the beautiful. Amber waves of grain. Purple mountains majesty. I love it here. And admittedly there are things about the USA I am not proud of, but the rugged beauty of places like Montana remind me how grateful I am to be an American.

    Glacier National Park
    Deadwood Falls

    Our recent trip was a short one, but an inspiring one. We drove from Spokane Washington on Interstate 90 to Bigfork. The drive takes about four hours from Spokane. You leave Interstate 90 at Saint Regis and head north on 93 to Bigfork. The drive is spectacular and the only way to visit Montana properly is with a car. The last hour of the drive takes you north with Flathead lake on your right. Beautiful views of this enormous lake and the mountains and forests beyond.

    We have friends we were visiting in Bigfork and we wanted to spend a day in Glacier National Park, one of our favorites of the National Parks in the USA. The last time we visited Glacier we stayed three days in October. The park was quiet and we enjoyed having it nearly to ourselves. In July however it was very crowded with tourists from all of the USA and many from around the world.

    The crowds kept us from finding parking at the first two places we wanted to hike, so we continued on to two other hikes, which we enjoyed. The park is big, but there is really only one road “The Going to the Sun Road” so at peak season it can be busy. There is talk of making Going to the Sun a shuttle road (like they do in Zion). During peak season you would leave your vehicle and take a shuttle.

    Flathead Lake Montana
    Historic Ice House, Somers

    There are shuttles available as well as the historic Red Bus Tours. We have not done this but it looks really fun and you get a guide who narrates history, geography and wildlife topics. Worth the money.

    We really enjoyed our full day at Glacier with visits to Lake McDonald Lodge, Logan Pass, Deadwood Falls and Two Medicine.

    Glacier National Park Montana
    Young grizzly, Glacier National Park

    We spent another day in Bigfork, which has grown a lot and offers a variety of restaurants, shops and galleries in what used to be a sleepy cowboy town. Very walkable and beautiful. We took a hike along the Swan River Nature Trail just up the hill from the old town and enjoyed the views from there.

    We also drove to Lakeside on Flathead Lake, where families were swimming and sunning themselves in a lovely public park. The resort town offers many hotels and restaurants. We made a stop in Somers and visited the historic train station and ice house and learned some history of the region.

    Bigfork Montana
    The American, Bigfork Montana

    I’d like to go back next summer and head south and stop in Missoula, Butte and Bozeman…maybe go as far as Yellowstone. It’s a large state, worth the time it takes to see it, worth it whether you are from Montana or Morocco, Washington or Wales.

    Montana Wildlife
    Big Horn Ram, Glacier National Park

    Big Sky Country. Purple Mountains Majesty. Montana.

    Glacier National Park

    Where to stay?

    We recommend The American right in downtown Bigfork. Eight miles south try Sterling Ranch Airbnb.

    Where to eat?

    We recommend Rileys Pub and Flathead Lake Brewery. Outside of Bigfork in Esex we enjoyed dinner at The Isaac Walton Inn.

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